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After weeks of confusion, misinformation and “cousins who work at the Pentagon” being loud and wrong, the Government finally started sending waves of $1,200 Stimulus payments to Americans (via check or direct deposit) as part of the historic $2.2 Trillion CARES Act.

As of today, nearly 17 million people across the country are unemployed and desperately NEED that money for basic essentials, bills and rent during this stressfully uncertain pandemic.

(Note: Individuals with annual adjusted gross income below $75,000 receive $1,200 – married couples who filed taxes jointly who earn under $150,000 receive $2,400, plus $500 per qualifying child)

Sadly, many of them won’t see a dime after predatory debt collectors seize the money that dumbfoundingly isn’t protected by our bumbling Government.

In response to this egregious oversight, a coalition of Attorney Generals led by New York’s Letitia James sent a letter asking Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to issue regulations barring debt collectors from seizing the payments. This would put the one-time stimulus payments in the same category as Social Security payments, which are mostly exempt from seizure.

But, until those regulations actually take effect, Americans are on their own (especially impoverished and underserved communities) with very few viable options that we’ve compiled for you on the flip.

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Source: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty

Transfer the stimulus payment onto a prepaid card or bank account at a smaller bank or credit union. Creditors are less likely to serve garnishment orders on smaller banks.

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Source: Monashee Frantz/Getty

Monitor your accounts closely and move the money out as soon as it arrives by withdrawing it as cash, transferring it electronically or using it to pay for groceries or other essentials.

Black couple paying bills - stock photo

Source: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty

If there’s a risk of seizure, recipients of paper stimulus checks can contact their bank to confirm if there’s a garnishment order and cash the check immediately.

Grocery stores or other merchants may accept the checks and provide cash back that can be saved or loaded onto a prepaid card.

Mixed race woman reading bills on sofa - stock photo

Source: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty

Depending on the state, you can claim funds in your bank account are exempt, for example under exemptions for “public benefits,” deposits up to a certain dollar amount, or a “wild card” dollar amount.

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